Hospital boss accused of kickbacks

Hospital boss accused of kickbacks

Drug firms 'asked for 5% commission fee'

Fact-finding and disciplinary probes have been ordered against a hospital director in Khon Kaen accused of demanding 5% commission fees from pharmaceutical firms.

The inquiries against Dr Charnchai Chanvorachaikul, director of Khon Kaen Hospital, were said to have been prompted by an anonymous letter sent to the public health permanent secretary Sukhum Kanchanapimai.

Dr Charnchai on Friday strongly denied the allegations to waiting media as he reported to the Public Health Ministry following his transfer to facilitate the investigation.

The transfer was signed by Dr Sukhum and Dr Kriangsak Watcharanukulkiat, director of Prapokklao Hospital in Chanthaburi province, was appointed as acting director of Khon Kaen Hospital.

Dr Charnchai said he had never demanded commission fees from drug companies and negotiations for discounts for the hospital's medical supply procurement schemes were transparent and on the record.

He also insisted that donations to the hospital development fund by drug firms were made voluntarily and the spending of public donations was overseen by a committee.

He said he would seek a meeting with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul next week to explain himself and petition the Civil Service Commission for fair treatment as he was concerned that he would not receive an impartial investigation.

Moreover, he noted that the disciplinary inquiry was headed by health inspector-general Pitakpol Boonyamalik, who served as a close aide of the public health permanent secretary.

It was reported that Dr Charnchai was considering suing the public health permanent secretary for malfeasance.

Meanwhile, Dr Kriangsak denied rumours that he sent the anonymous letter to the public health permanent secretary.

Commenting on the controversial commissions, he said the cabinet has issued a resolution against demanding such fees from pharmaceutical companies and soliciting donations during negotiations.

Mr Anutin yesterday played down reports that Dr Charnchai had threatened to file a lawsuit against Dr Sukhum over the transfer order.

He said he received a petition lodged by Dr Charnchai and he would consult his legal advisers to determine what he can legally do in this situation.

"Fair treatment is the most important thing and, as the public health minister, I will not cross the line. I will adhere to the laws and regulations. No one can mistreat Dr Charnchai if he did nothing wrong." he said.

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